Early Season Elk Hunting Gear List

Russ Meyer in camp after a successful elk hunt

To be consistently successful when you’re elk hunting, whether you’re going unguided or with an outfitter, you need to be prepared. If you’re looking for an early season elk hunting gear list, it is probably for an archery hunt, and you’re going to need some specialty gear that isn’t used on other hunts. From scouting equipment to game bags, this early season elk hunting gear list has all of the gear you will need.

[REMEMBER] This is a sample/generic gear list. For more specific details for the time of year you are traveling to, we recommend checking with your outfitter, hunting consultant or your destination’s local Wildlife Management Agency.

*If you’re mobile, backcountry, backpack-style hunter and want to go lean-and-mean, be sure to check out this podcast with Steve Speck, the owner of EXO Mountain Gear. That post also has links to the gear that Steve uses on his backcountry hunts.

Early Season Elk Hunting Gear List


Underwear (1 pair per day)
❏ Base Layer Top and Bottom (2 – 3 pairs per week) *we suggest merino wool
❏ Lightweight Camo Jacket
❏ Windstopper Camo Jacket
 Midweight Camo Jacket
Lightweight Camo Vest
Lightweight Camo Shirt (3 – 5 per week) *you can get away with fewer shirts if you wear merino wool.
Lightweight Camo Pants (1-2 pair per week)
❏ Midweight Camo Pants (1 pair per week)
Rain Gear
Blaze Orange (rifle hunts) *check regulations in the state you are hunting
❏ Lightweight Gloves
Midweight Gloves
Camo or Neutral-colored Cap
Camo Stocking Cap or Camo Beanie
❏ Camo Head Net



Hunting Boots
Socks (1 pair per day)
Liner Socks (1 pair per day)
❏ Boot Grease
Extra Laces
Camp Shoes
❏ Stalking Shoes


Elk Hunting Accessories

Elk Decoy
Cow Calls
Bugle and Bugle Tube
Ground Blind
Folding Chair
Bow Holder
❏ Day Pack
Water Bottle
❏ Large Backpack
❏ Wind Direction Indicator
❏ Flashlight
❏ Headlamp
❏ Hunting Knife
❏ Multi-Tool
❏ Topo Maps or Mobile Mapping Software
❏ inReach GPS
❏ Scent Elimination Spray
❏ Water Bladder (2L)
❏ Fire Starter Kit
❏ Game Bags
❏ Caping Salt
❏ Dry Bag



Buy the highest quality optics that you can afford.

❏ Binoculars (Quality 8’s or 10’s)
❏ Spotting Scope
❏ Tripod
❏ Rangefinder
❏ Bino Harness
❏ Phone Skope
Lens Cloth


Camping Gear

❏ Tent/Bivy (appropriate for the trip)
❏ Large Duffel Bag
❏ Sleeping Bag (appropriate for the season/region)
❏ Sleeping Pad
❏ Camp Pillow
❏ Cot
❏ Compression Bag
❏ 5 gal. Collapsible Water Container
Water Filtration
❏ Pot
❏ Bowls
❏ Eating Utensils
❏ Lighter
❏ Large Fuel Container(s)
❏ Camp Stove
❏ Lantern
❏ Folding Table
❏ Paper Towels
❏ TP/Wet Wipes
❏ Ziploc Bags
❏ Heavy Garbage Bags
❏ First Aid Kit


Personal Items

❏ Lip Balm
Insect Repellant
Moleskin for blisters
Super Glue
❏ Prescription Medication
Duct Tape
❏ Pain Reliever
❏ Extra Glasses and/or Contacts
❏ Quality Polarized Sunglasses
❏ Personal Toiletries
❏ Camera
❏ Video Camera and/or GoPro
❏ Extra Batteries for all Electronics
❏ Hunting license and tag(s). Many states also require Hunters Safety certificates.
❏ Conservation Stamp, Gun Permits etc.
❏ I.D. and Passport (if needed).
❏ Airline ticket and Itinerary
❏ Outfitter contact information


For Archery Elk Hunts

There are a lot of great bows out there, but the Outdoors International team shoots Hoyt.

Bow *check regulations in the state you are hunting
❏ Arrows (at least one doz.)
❏ Broadheads *check regulations in the state you are hunting
Release *an extra release is recommended
❏ Soft Bow Case
❏ Hard Bow Case


For Rifle Elk Hunts

There are some early season rifle elk hunts during the rut. On these hunts, most gear will be the same, other than the weapon of course. Use enough gun.

We suggest these calibers: .270 Winchester; 7mm Remington Magnum; .30-06 Springfield; .300 WSM; .300 Winchester Magnum; .300 Weatherby Magnum; 30 Nosler; .338 RCM; or .338 Winchester Magnum. Other options might be: 6.5 Creedmoor; .280 Ackley Improved; or 28 Nosler.

❏ Rifle
❏ Shells (at least one box)
❏ Scope (with rain cover)
❏ Sling
❏ Shooting Sticks
❏ Soft Rifle Case
❏ Hard Rifle Case
❏ Gun Cleaning Kit


For Muzzleloader Elk Hunts

❏ coming soon…


Some Tips

  • Most people pack WAY too much. For most guided trips, all of your gear should be able to fit in one duffel bag weighing less than 80 lbs. *Not including your sleeping bag.
  • Use your backpack for all of your carry-on items if you are flying.
  • Pack an extra set of casual clothing with you in your hard case under the foam lining.
  • Pack your sleeping bag in a compression sack to conserve space.

Trip Insurance

We strongly recommend you consider purchasing a trip insurance policy, as most outfitters do not offer refunds for any reason. If some unforeseen problem pops up and you are unable to make your trip, you won’t lose all of your hard earned money.

Trip insurance also protects you from damage or loss to your equipment and provides medical benefits and emergency evacuation coverage during your trip. For more information visit this link.

Check the Weather

To ensure your are prepared for weather conditions for your upcoming adventure, we recommend checking www.weather.com and/or www.accuweather.com immediately prior to your departure.

Tipping Your Guide

The standard tip for a guide is 10% to 20% of the cost of your trip. Remember to tip the cooks and other help in the camp as well. The amount you give reflects your appreciation for your guide’s hard work and effort.One of the most important factors to a successful elk hunt is your ability to shoot well. Start preparing for your hunt well in advance by sighting in your rifle or bow carefully. Make sure you practice from all possible shooting positions, and shoot A LOT out to distances that stretch your abilities. That will make those close shots easy.

For most rifle hunts you will need a flat shooting, bolt action .243 or larger rifle with a quality scope. Sight in so that you are dead on at 200 yards. Don’t be afraid to use shooting sticks. Here’s a good long range shooting course that is worth considering.

For bowhunts, we prefer modern compound bows that are 60 lbs or more. Be sighted in at 20, 30 and 40 yards at a bare minimum. For Western hunts you may need to stretch that distance out to 50 yards or more. Your maximum range is the range at which you can keep EVERY arrow in a pie plate sized group.If you are looking for a good taxidermist, we use and recommend The Wildlife Gallery. They do amazing work, will treat you right and most importantly, they will bring your trophy “back to life”.

Be sure to tell them Outdoors International sent you.

Outdoors International


Discover why thousands of people have trusted us with their adventures.

Request Pricing Or More Info Talk To a Consultant

ELK 101


Elk 101 - Elk Hunting University

  • Have you been dreaming of going on your first elk hunt, but don’t even know where to start?
  • Have you hunted elk previously, but failed to return home with a filled tag?
  • Do you wish you could figure out the “secret” to consistent elk hunting success?
  • Do you kill an elk every season, but consider yourself a student of elk hunting and continually look for ways to improve?
  • Are you ready to enroll, and push the dial of your ELK HUNTING SUCCESS far beyond the averages?

CLICK HERE to Sign Up Now!

Use the code OIUEH  at checkout to Save 20%